When I was a kid, my stepdad took me to his church,
A primitive Baptist church, out in the country.
Just one naked bulb, hanging down, lit the place.
The singing went okay, since I knew some of the hymns.
Then the preacher, thin and grim, took to the pulpit.
He slowly wound himself up, and then let fly.
His reedy voice gained volume and he began to gyrate
And gesticulate, punctuating phrases with a loud Ha!
I though he was nuts. He scared me. Scared me.
But the congregation really got it all, aiding and abetting.
I didn’t realize it then that those who live by their voice
Make its use a performance piece; ecstatic call-and-response.
It spun higher and tighter, people dancing wildly, hands up.
Glossolalia, jerking, fainting, being saved, madness,
Or what I thought was madness, but was just a release.
[At Gettysburg, it’s told, the man who spoke before Lincoln did
Spin out a real stemwinder, but Lincoln spoke just briefly.
And the crowd went, ‘Wait! What?” The heart heeds a quiet voice.]
Oh, and young people generally shouldn’t be exposed
To batshit crazy Baptist preachers. I believe that.